After two years, Hanbleceya will be leaving Normandy Park by July 12

Kerry Paulson of Hanbleceya.

by Jack Mayne

Kerry Paulson, managing partner of adult care home Hanbleceya says July 12 will be the organization’s last day in Normandy Park.

Hanbleceya bills itself as “an organization providing multiple levels of treatment for adult individuals suffering from mental illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, PTSD and dual diagnoses … (an) adult residential facility, semi-independent living program and transitional outpatient program provide the full spectrum of treatment choices.”

From almost the very first – two years ago – it has split the community, some strongly supporting its group home approach and others vociferous against it and the people it drew to the neighborhoods of Normandy Park.

“The firestorm, for lack of a better word, in the community has hurt the clients,” Paulson said in a telephone interview from his office in San Diego. He said he was sorry the entire Normandy Park community could not have embraced what Hanbleceya was trying to do.

Paulson said Hanbleceya decided to leave Normandy Park “because we got tired of fighting the community.”

“There is a small minority of the community who are very, very vocal people who would like to see the demise of Hanbleceya in their area. It is devastating to some of the staff – 22 people lost their jobs and 15 clients had to find other places to go to get treated. But the reality is that all of the strife in the community was hurtful to the clients. Many of them felt invalid because of what was going on – here is the community that doesn’t want them in the community. It just got to the point that staff just didn’t want to do it any longer.

“We are not out of money, we are not doing it for any other reason than it is the best thing for everybody involved.”

In retrospect, Paulson says he regrets coming to the Northwest, “but you don’t know these things until it is hindsight, right? We came up there with good intentions, we helped a lot of people get better even in the short time we were there. We gave it a shot.”

He says Hanbleceya has intentions to expand elsewhere, “just not in the Northwest. I don’t think it makes sense to try that again.”

Caring for mentally ill people, he says, “is really hard work. We are treating people who are really, really sick – families that are really devastated that are dealing with havoc. It would be nice to be accepted into a community, it would be nice for people to want to honor what we are doing and to validate the work we are doing. It is difficult to be spending your time fighting communities, paying attorneys when really the focus should be on the individuals who need our help.”

He noted that Hanbleceya “lost a little bit of money,” but most of the investors in the Normandy Park endeavor would get their money back.

Objected to newspaper stories
Paulson disputes much of the June 27 Seattle Times story by Christine Willmsen but says “it is true” that he did not return the reporter’s phone calls asking for comment. He has been a critic of the three stories published in the Times over the past year, saying much of the newspaper stories were incorrect or misleading.

He referred to a June 27 news story in the Times that said, “A lengthy investigation by DSHS determined in September that Hanbleceya was illegally operating adult family homes.”

“A group of people in the community that opposed our existence (made) numerous complaints to regulatory bodies,” Paulson said. “As a result of those complaints, the regulatory bodies had to start asking questions, they visited our houses and made the determination, via letter in September that they felt like we were not complying with the regulations. As a result of that, we responded and they started an investigation.”

In March 2013, the state Department of Social and Health Services released a public letter “essentially saying that we are in compliance. All of our homes were in compliance.

“We decided during the investigation that we wanted to pursue getting a licensed adult family home, so we closed one of our five houses and we applied for a license to make that an adult family home,” Paulson said. “That would be a pretty important part of the Hanbleceya process to have that level of care provided. We do it in San Diego and it was always our intention at some point to do it in Seattle.

“We applied and were in the process and fulfilled almost all of the requirements until recently when we decided to close. We contacted DSHS and asked them to void the application. It was at our request that that happened.

The Times story said DSHS cancelled the application because Hanbleceya didn’t meet the requirements, he said.

“That is not true and DSHS would confirm that.”

Closing date
“The last day in operation (in Normandy Park) will be July 12,” Paulson said, despite what was reported in the June 27th Seattle Times. “Whichever clients have not transitioned to other programs or to jobs or housing or back home – whoever is left we are continuing to support up until July 12.

“Actually, today (July 1) there are only two clients that are left in housing and they are going to be moving out together in the next couple of days. We’ve got three fulltime staff at the office available for any of the client’s needs.”

Three of the former Normandy Park clients have transferred to Hanbleceya in San Diego and a couple more are considering that move, he said. Despite the newspaper story that said some clients were abandoned, Hanbleceya is caring all for.

“Every single client was invited to transfer to our San Diego facility and we would pay all of the expenses to get them here and the facility has also agreed to honor all of the commitments that were in place. Anything the Seattle clients were committed to, San Diego would honor.”

He said if people who have moved out need added help, Hanbleceya would provide staff would help, noting that Dr. Jackie Ball is still on the staff if needed.

“Most of them have gone to other programs or they were ready to transition so they transitioned to an apartment, (or) to a job.”

Not illegally run
Paulson was critical of the Seattle Times June 27 article that said the homes were operated illegally. That “is not entirely true but what it did is it prompted an investigation which … conducted and found in March (2013) that, in fact, we were not conducting operations illegally.”

The state sent out a public letter to that effect but he said it was not mention in the June 27 newspaper story, Paulson said.

Paulson says the Times story related that “two (patients) claim they were kicked out of the homes for infractions and forced to live in homeless shelters or on the street until allowed to be readmitted.”

“That would never happen and that has never happened,” Paulson said. “There would be some instances where people were suspended from housing, but when we suspend somebody from housing, they are usually going to an alternative facility, sometimes the parent might decide they want to take them home, sometimes they might get hospitalized. In every instance, the families would be notified what our intentions are and they would have the choice.”

The Seattle Times story said a resident was taken by surprise at the closing.

“The doors were locked and everyone left,” the newspaper story said.

“I didn’t think I would get 10 days’ notice and they would leave without making sure we had medication, without making sure we had doctors set up, without making sure we had a place to live. They literally ran out of town,” the Time’s article said.

Not true, says Paulson. Hanbleceya notified residents of the Normandy Park facilities on June 3 “that is was our intention to close. We didn’t give anybody 10 days notice – we would never do that. In fact, every single client that was in the program at that time” was supported in transitioning out of the facilities.

“A lot of that transition process was terminating our therapists, terminating their peers and then providing for the needed support for them to appropriately take the next step.”

“We have staff there until July 12,” Paulson said.

He noted that the original five-year lease would be terminated as soon as possible but Hanbleceya wanted to be fair to Normandy Park Towne Center owner Tom O’Keefe, “a big supporter of Hanbleceya.”


3 Responses to “After two years, Hanbleceya will be leaving Normandy Park by July 12”
  1. Kathleen Waters says:

    This article is actually an interview with Kerry Paulson. So, because Paulson has a serious vested interest in what he tells a newspaper, let me share some facts as I know them.

    Washington state does not have a track record with for-profit mental health facilities that can be used as a comparison with Hanbleceya.

    There is a gap in the regulatory process used by the DOH and DSHS regarding for-profit mental health treatment as compared to non-profit programs.

    Not all mentally ill people have addictions. Some addition patients have mental illness. HAnbleceya’s promotional material always emphasizes that they treat both types of patients. In practice, they treated both groups of patients in one home with one size fits all methods.

    There is no accepted standard of care for psychiatric patients that uses severe tough love disciplinary practices as a behavior modification technique. This technique is common for addition patients.

    Respected psychiatrists are on record that psychotic breaks are not predictable. Recent tragic events in our country in the last couple of years verify this record.

    Hanbleceya did not believe in or practice care that included 24/7 supervision. Nor did the practice any on-site supervision of any number of hours per day. Instead it fostered the idea that severely ill schizophrenics, bi-polars and depressed individuals could learn to live independently in a house with others with the same conditions.

    In the original model of treatment used in the NP homes, staff dropped by the homes about twice a day for a short period of time – usually never in excess of approximately two hours.

    Paulson’s interview with Maynes skirts the issue of why the Washington State Agency for Financial Institutions is “negotiating” a settlement with Hanbleceya. He states investors will be reimbursed. Since the investor’s names are not public record he is free to couch his statements about them in any way he chooses.

    NPC, an advocacy group who worked to get the company and its practices regulated was very clear that the patients were never the focus of anything it worked to change. Instead, it focused exclusively on regulation of the business, Hanbleceya.

    Mental health treatment lags sorely behind other health/medical treatment in regards to regulation particularly when it is not hospital based.

    NPC discovered in the summer of ’12 that some Hanbleceya patients were not being treated in a way that synchronized with our understanding of the vulnerability of severely mentally ill individuals and respect for their humanity..

    The NPC Facebook page provided an 800 number to assist anyone who wanted to report abuse of Vulnerable Adults and also the phone number 211, for individuals to find any number of community resources from financial assistance to homeless accommodations.

    NPC has had significant community support and continues to work with the City of Normandy Park to assure that the city and the regulatory agencies in Washington state draft legislation that will address similar companies.

    DOH investigated Hanbleceya in June, July ’12 and found they did not fit the required regulations for Residential Treatment Facilities. DSHS investigated the company twice. The first time resulted in the Seattle Times publishing a story that the Hanbleceya owned and rented homes (five in all) were operating illegal Adult Family Homes. After the First investigation just described and Before the second investigation, Paulson’s attorneys wrote a lengthy letter to DSHS describing how they would change their operating procedures to turn four of the homes into “group homes” NOT adult family homes. That would bring them into compliance. So, later DSHS found their group homes were suitable as group home that don’t need regulation. So when it became public that the four homes could operate as group homes, Paulson pretty quickly went public and conflated the first and second investigations and announced that his NP homes were all fine and dandy because DSHS said they were legal. It certainly seemed that once the second investigation by DSHS used the word “legal” that the company reverted to its for-profit business model and was treating the patients in their homes by staff on a twice daily schedule not just sending them to the clinic in Towne Center as the H attorney letter described..

    Early this year, the company applied for an Adult Family Home license first for one house that they owned, and then later, for a second house because the fire prevention requirement for the first home couldn’t be met because of lack of water pressure. The second home application was never completed and that home also wouldn’t have met state adult family home structural requirements.

    I thoroughly enjoyed meeting some of the patients. We are in touch with some of them and want them to have the best treatment available. And some are doing just that having left or being forced to leave Hanbleceya.

    I find our community committed to respect and concern that the mentally ill among us are treated with dignity and compassion. Thanks to everyone who has worked to get Hanbleceya regulated through open and public process through donations, time and energy.

  2. Thomas says:

    It should be noted, that one of the houses was without working furnace for the entire time that Hanbleceya had people occupying the home. Draw your own conclusions about Hanbleceya, but someone who fails to look after their occupants will also fail to look after a communities best interest.

  3. Charlotte Assisted Living says:

    Washington state does not have a track record with for-profit mental health facilities that can be used as a comparison with Hanbleceya.

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